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Common Legal Points You Need to Know About Dog Bites and Animal Attacks

— December 17, 2019

It is undeniable that animals are beautiful and everyone should love them unconditionally. But if they attack or harm you, it’s your legal right to claim damage for the injuries and pain that you suffered.

Dog bites are one of the most common incidents in America, and that’s why there are legal rights for the victims to recoup damages from the owner of the animal or the other concerned party. If you get attacked by a dog or some other animal, having awareness of the law around such events may come in handy. So, let’s explore some most basic, yet crucial, factors.

What to do when an animal bites you?

Go for medical help first. Otherwise, you may risk your health with infection, severe injury, and death (if the animal was sick). After examination, you can approach a credible personal injury firm that deals in animal bite cases. Only an experienced lawyer can guide you correctly in this matter. He can tell you whether you can claim damage or not and what can be your recovery. 

In this process, your attorney will want to get a full idea of the incident that took place. While briefing him, you will need to give him the name and contact information of the animal’s owner. In case you don’t have these details, you can talk to a neighbor or witness who can share those data points. Make sure to note down the name and phone number of any witnesses, to

How to determine the owner’s liability?

In these cases, it is necessary to know to whom the animal belongs. Some states hold animal owners to be strictly liable for the animal bites or attacks on others. Going by this, even if the owner were unaware that his pet was dangerous, he would still have the liability if his animal attacks someone. However, in some states, the law says that the animal owner will have strict liability only if he had prior knowledge of his animal’s dangerous nature. However, it’s not easy to ascertain that an owner already knew that an animal could be dangerous. So, it takes a round of questioning to assess it, which only an expert advocate can handle.

Dog bite on arm; image by Nicor, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0, no changes.
Dog bite on arm; image by Nicor, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0, no changes.

In this context, it is also necessary to understand how an animal owner can defend himself. For example, if the person had warned others that his pet is dangerous and tried to keep it away from everyone, then the victim who disregarded his warnings cannot file a case against him. There is a legal term for this type of instance, which is “contributory negligence” or “assumption of the risk.” When the person doesn’t exercise safety, which he should have, he shows contributory negligence. For example, suppose that a dog owner had a sign that read “Beware of Dog.” If you ignore it and get attacked by the dog, you cannot blame the owner for your injury.

Besides, some animal owners also claim that the victim had instigated the animal in order to escape liability. For example, if you attempted to intimidate an animal through gesturing, the owner may be free of responsibility.

Anyway, these are potential defenses that an animal owner can use to his favor. But he would need to persuade the jury. Also, if you can present your case strongly, you don’t need to worry about it too much. However, for this, you need to have a qualified personal injury lawyer by your side.

Who can be the other liable parties in these incidents?

Other than the animal owner, there can be some other people responsible for an animal bite. These can include animal keepers, parents of children less than 18 years old, landlords, and property owners. 

An animal keeper can be the person who takes care of the animal or is its custodian. Parents of minors can also be liable for such incidents even though they were not a part of it directly. A property owner may have to bear a claim because he or she allowed the animal on their property. Similarly, if the landlord was aware of the dangerous propensities of the pet owned by his tenant, then he may also be accountable for the victim’s injuries.

What can you expect to recover?

If you are successful in your claim, you can recover your loss. It can cover medical bills, pain and suffering, lost income, or property damage. However, don’t forget that it depends on the severity of your injuries caused by a dog bite or animal attack.

Sometimes, you can also claim punitive damages under which a responsible party has to face punishment for their behavior. But for this, you need to prove that the other party was not negligent, that it allowed this to happen either on purpose or recklessly. At the same time, you should also know that if you get injured while performing regular duties at your workplace, then you can ask for workers’ compensation from your boss. And, if the dog belongs to someone else and not your employer, you can claim damage from that person too. 

How to find a lawyer?

Since Vancouver city in Washington has many reputable law firms, you can find it overwhelming to decide who can be best for your needs. It’s a common problem. You don’t need to worry about it. Search online and pick a few firms that look reputable. You can check a lawyer’s qualifications and experience in the field on the website. If you don’t get this information online, you can contact the firm through phone or email for details. Schedule an appointment with those who you deem fit for your situation. When you discuss your case with them, observe their behavior towards you and the level of knowledge they have. All this can help you choose well. 

It is undeniable that animals are beautiful and everyone should love them unconditionally. But if they attack or harm you, it’s your legal right to claim damage for the injuries and pain that you suffered. Since legal processes are not straightforward, you may not know how to approach such matters in the right way. To avoid confusion, inconvenience, and also the chances of failure, you must make sure to get in touch with a trustworthy lawyer specialized in this field.

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